After best regular season numbers in program history, Daigle leads Griffins into final series

Marc-Olivier Daigle's .937 regular season save percentage is the best in the history of the Griffins men's hockey program (Matthew Jacula photo).
Marc-Olivier Daigle's .937 regular season save percentage is the best in the history of the Griffins men's hockey program (Matthew Jacula photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – As well as Marc-Olivier Daigle played in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference playoffs last year – specifically how he shut the door on the NAIT Ooks in the final – it's hard to fathom that the MacEwan Griffins goaltender had an even higher gear.

But he did.

Daigle followed up his 2018 ACAC playoff MVP award with nothing less than the best regular season a goalie has had in the 21-year history of the Griffins men's hockey program.

In 2018-19, the fourth-year Bromont, Que. Commerce student-athlete not only topped the ACAC in goals against average (1.85), save percentage (.937) and wins (16), he also broke MacEwan records in those categories.

"I think it's just been a team thing," said Daigle of the statistics he was able to post in 2018-19. "Yes, they're personal stats, but I think the guys in front of me are doing a job that allows me to be successful. They're blocking shots night in and night out and are allowing me to be successful.

"It's going well for me, but for the rest of the team, as well. I think that's why we're where we are today. If you look at the standings, our powerplay's on top of the league, our (penalty kill's) on top of the league, we scored the most goals in the league and allowed the fewest. So as a group, it allowed all of us to have good seasons and that's obviously reflected in my stats."

Daigle leads MacEwan into the ACAC Championship final against the NAIT Ooks for a third-straight season. Game 1 is Friday (7 p.m., NAIT Arena), Game 2 is Saturday (6 p.m., Downtown Community Arena) and Game 3, if necessary is Sunday (6:30 p.m., NAIT Arena).

Heading into the series, Daigle is currently sporting a 1.61 goals against average and .955 save percentage after leading MacEwan past Red Deer College in the semifinal. As playoff MVP in 2018, his numbers were 2.01 and .947.

Marc-Olivier Daigle posted a record shutout streak of 226 minutes and 31 seconds that spanned over the semester break from Nov. 24 to Jan. 25 (Matthew Jacula photo).

Stats certainly tell a story, but that's not the only reason why he's the backbone of what the Griffins have done in winning two-straight ACAC Championships.

"He's a quiet leader in our dressing room and he goes out on the ice with a confidence about his game that, in my opinion, is unmatched," said MacEwan head coach Michael Ringrose. "That's what makes him so great. He believes he can get the job done no matter what the situation is.

"He can rally a team with a big save and is humble in his approach to his day to day. Lots of positive things and he's certainly deserving of any accolades he receives as well."

There are two more records that Daigle surpassed in his special 2018-19 season – breaking MacEwan's mark for the most regular season shutouts with three – and setting a new record for the program's longest shutout streak in the process.

Spanning over the semester break, Daigle went for 226 minutes and 31 seconds (from Nov. 24 to Jan. 25) without allowing a goal.

"It was coming back from Christmas and we were playing Briercrest, I think," he said. "For me, it was just 'I've got to stop the next one' and I kept stopping them, so I thought I may as well keep that rolling.

"It was a good feeling, for sure, and I think that stretch there as a team put some good vibes and made us feel good about ourselves. It was a good way to start the second half."